Manjunath Kamath grew up in Mangalore in a large joint family among grandmothers and aunts who narrated folktales, religious stories and introduced him to Indian classical music. His early training was with traditional idol makers who prepare life-size statues for festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Pooja.
His later studies at the Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts and at the School of Design and Art at Cardiff University exposed him to contemporary art and city life. Infused with a certain urbane-charm that looked humorously at the mundane and the political, Kamath's work straddles a variety of media and size.
While Kamath's signature style is painting with watercolour, he has switched to acrylic and oil on canvas for this body of work. "The project demanded that I change mediums as the works have to possess a longevity that will withstand the test of time and the Mumbai climate, which is very humid", says Kamath. The images are also coated with a fire-resistant layer of paint.
The inclusion of animation in Kamath's work is recent, with his first foray into this medium being showcased at the India Art Fair 2012. "There is a tendency to refer only to 'new media works' as experimental. In my opinion, one can be experimental without moving away from being Indian, traditional or even for that matter, decorative. That is why I chose to work with animation and hand drawn, hand painted images that come from my repository of works. I never animate an image digitally as the end result looks plastic."
Instead, each image is drawn and painted a number of times, each 'frame' slightly different, and then the 'frames' are exported into the software to create an animation sequence. Each video has an archive of about 400-500 hand illustrations. It is a painstaking and time-consuming process.
Firmly rooted in folk and classical visual traditions as well as India's rich repertoire of fables, myths and popular culture, Kamath's work, makes the lines between art and craft appear superficial.